Kevin Parker and his Tame Impala came into life only a few years ago, but since then they’ve become on of the most exciting bands to enter my life in a long long time. At this point, they’ve made three brilliant and uniquely different albums. All three will be represented here today, and will show the natural logical progression of the band. I can’t even say precisely what has made this band so important to me in a relatively short amount of time, but these songs are full of life, depicting highs and lows we all must traverse. Today I present to you the Top Ten songs by Perth psych rock masterminds, Tame Impala
10. Mind Mischief, Lonerism
One of the best things about this band is the music videos. While trippy and lush in colors, they don’t only go for the cheap grab with no meaning behind it. The twang in the guitar appears perfectly in the hazy vibe of the track while Parker's voice has that gentle, Lennon like whisper that makes you feel all warm inside. Much of the lyrics presented are able to transport the listener back to a time of uncertainty, but also genuine happiness when Kevin delivers “She remembered my name. ” It’s in that moment though, that the music and glow around the song really come into their own, and take us to the conclusion of the song is a wonderful, full world of light,
9. Cause I’m a Man, Currents
As I’ve mentioned before, “Currents,” the band third release, essentially is framed and created in the vein of a pure R&B album. “‘Cause I’m a Man” the ninth song on our Top Ten, is firmly embedded in that world, and what Parker does with the framework and narration of the song is songwriting at it’s best. It sways back and forth, much like a relationship on the brink of dissolution. Multiple lyrics hit home for me, but it’s the pain and forgiveness in Parker's voice that makes it able to put yourself in his position. The man speaking wants things to change, but these two parties aren't meant to share a life, and well, that’s that.
8. Let it Happen, Currents
When I first heard this song, honestly, I was not a fan. The music didn’t remind of what had come before, and more dancey, electronic vibe turned me off. Not that it was bad, but it wasn't the Tame I had fallen in love with on the previous two albums. But, after multiple listens, and hearing the album presented in full, it suddenly made sense. This album, and this track especially was Tame Impala opening themselves up and rising in the world of thought provoking music. The success of the albums rides on the popularity of the first track, and “Let it Happen,” with all of it’s meandering and chasing of holes, comes through in a big way, and shows the band is capable of so much more.
7. Lucidity, Innerspeaker
Over the last five minutes I’ve tried to properly express the attitude and force behind the opening of this essential psychedelic trance of this song. Line after line has been erased. Here it is though: It simmers with all the milestones of the psychedelic genre, but it also has a new gloss over it. Parker's voice peaks through at all the crucial moments, while the sound of the guitar harkens back to the heyday of the era. It’s easily one of the best, most rocking songs on their wonderful debut, and in it’s excellence shows the mindset one person would have to have to take a gamble and make music for himself, and not anyone else.
6. It’s Not Meant to Be, Innerspeaker
Many songs depict the beach, but few do so in the way Tame Impala manages to convey it in the mind blowing spectrum of noises Parker is able to do it. Chosen as the first song on the first album, “It’s Not Meant to Be,” feels like you’re on a beach, but not a beautiful beach with the one you love. Rather, this is a song about disagreements. Such disagreements about the pros and cons of sand on your feet, or smoking pot all day. The song, clocking in at nearly five and a half minutes, wilds through lush guitar work, and the drumming is elegant and low key, never willing to overtake the song, but rather nudging the song slightly to perfection.
5. Apocalypse Dreams, Lonerism
Like a sun suddenly appearing in the sky at full strength, “Apocalypse Dreams,” roars into ears and explores the mind of Kevin Parker, and what he’s capable of. The track has this frollicking aspect to it that also renders the song in the best way possible. The lyrics, as well as the vocal harmony Kevin engages evoke some of the best moments of the record, but the real prize doesn’t hit until second half of the song. After the slow strung guitars comes and goes, the track is propelled by the drums, all leading to a bright explosion of energy as the song heads quickly into a sundrenched, mind altering field of sound.
4. Yes I’m Changing, Currents
This track here is the dozy of the whole album. It’s so emotionally open and vulnerable it’s hard not to relate to it merit and depth. For someone going through a devastating end of a relationship(like I was at the time), “Yes I’m Changing” meant the world to me, and was a source of deep comfort that it would be alright in the end. The story of the song is a familiar one, which helps with relatability. It’s brutally cold and sober, depicting various frames of mind, encompassing the myriad of feelings you go through during a difficult emotional time. The best song off the new album, and the fourth spot on our Best Tame Impala Songs,”Yes I’m Changing.”
3. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, Lonerism
For many people, this was the song where they suddenly became aware of the majestic mode of storytelling that Impala lays out. The dinging opening, the lush overlaid guitars and bass, and the minimal but effectiveness of the drumming all make the song one of the best by the band. When Parker bellows the chorus, and various other sections you can grasp and understand the weariness permanent in the song structure. So many of their songs go hand in hand with raw emotion, of guilt, second thoughts, and other feelings that it eventually becomes your song too. It’s amazing, and it’s a song that still gets all the love it deserves.
2. Solitude is Bliss, Innerspeaker
One of the more upbeat, jam worthy songs in their catalog, “Solitude of Bliss,” enters the countdown at number two. The first time I saw them they opened with this, and from the first, hook friendly qualities of the bass, to the emerging of a big sound, the song has you in its grasp. It’s one of those bouncy songs too, which basically just means that it’s nearly effortless to bob your head and move your body to. Sure the band has naturally matured during the time between this creation and the newer works, but in my opinion they haven’t had many pure rockers, tracks that unabashedly jam out. This though, is easily one of them.
1. Elephant, Lonerism
There’s so so so much amazing happening in this song it’s hard to figure out a starting point. Obviously, a big part of the song is the fact that it very much lives up to it’s title. As a track,”Elephant” hurdles through the wild, violently and strongly pushing limits, with full sets of lumbering giants pummeling through whatever get’s in its way. The live version also has a wicked cool instrumental section that only elevates the energy of the song. The drum roll through the verses is also brilliantly laid out, while Kevin’s vocals sound as pure and fun as they ever get. The best lines though come toward the end of the bridge, making it’s way to the song conclusion. The word pay during the segment about pulling off the mirrors of his Cadillac(YEAH!), are some of the best lines in any song I’ve ever heard. For these reasons, “Elephant,” from the album “Lonerism,” is the number one Tame Impala song.
Thanks for reading!
Bradford Cox is a man. A very strange man, known for crossdressing, ramblings during gigs, and chaotic, uncontrollably passionate performances, but still, a normal man nonetheless. Ok maybe not normal. Emanating from a solid area known for diverse, legendary acts like R.E.M. and Neutral Milk Hotel, Bradford Cox and Deerhunter have emerged not only as one of the most riveting indie bands of the new millennium, but also one of the best. Album after album has been pitch perfect, and today we discuss their top ten best songs. Enjoy, and get ready to be weird.
10. Back to the Middle, Monomania
For me at least, “Monomania” was essentially my least favorite album the band ever did, while also containing a few bright gems. “Back to the Middle,” the ninth song on the album and the tenth song on the “Top Ten Deerhunter Songs,” has all the best aspect of a Deerhunter track. It brims with bright yet trashy vocals, the music behind Cox akin to an out of tune Strokes in a basement even more grimy. It’s a quick song, hardly getting past the two minute mark, but the track in itself is a gleeful reminder that the band can produce solid garage rock with flair.
9. Revival, Halcyon Digest
This track has always reminded me of a circular camera shot looking up at a tunnel of stairs during a dimly light house party. Once again the grungy yet ambient and psychedelic aspects of the band permeate through the speakers, and you’re left with a weird but thoughtfully deliberate act at your entrance to the brain. Even among their best albums, this song ranks as a great one. It manages to be chill and immediate all at once, and really showcases the understanding that Cox, but also the rest of the band has when it comes to creating hooks.
8. Ad Astra, Fading Frontier
The distant churn of the foghorn is what calls this moody, darkly lit ship to shore. It’s peaceful, slow, while brooding with untold majestic elements. Cox’s voice creeps over like a misty rain hovering over. Easily the best song on their excellent seventh album, the first time I heard the track I could tell it would gladly envelop me in ways past efforts by the band have been able to do. It’s a smooth transition at the four minute mark that really sends the band into a headspin of hypnotizing visuals.
7. Never Stops, Microcastle
There’s something so sleazy and svelte about this track from what’s arguably their breakout album. The drums are potent and thumping, while the wayward guitar wails through a tunnel. Bradford’s lyrics and vocal style obviously help the song also, and the back and forth with fast tempos and slower ones also help to let everyone have a fun, but then to wean into a cooler, more chill atmosphere. The whole album is dream like, but this is far above the others.
6. Fountain Stairs, Halcyon Digest
As soon as I got this record I knew they had delivered another solid collection of music. This song especially stood out. Placed late early in the record, it gives you a quick pick up on the way to the finale. It's easy to move too also, which helps with the overall reaction to the music. Many times the vocals sound distorted somewhat. Never in a bad or intrusive way, but it adds to what I like to think could be described as “floaty.” It has enough fun for a wild day at the beach, but also enough chill to get you through.
5. The Missing, Monomania
I still don't know what exactly this song is about, but I love the change in vocals, especially when done live. Cox is great, but the guitar player really nails it here.Lockett Pundt is his name, and for this brief moment his vocals bring you to a more pure place. The song has elements of darkness, but overall I feel like it has a more happy vibe, which isn’t at all how they approach the lyrics. It could very well end up being a cheerful sound but dark track lyric. The guitars here are also excellent and vibrant. It’ this main focus that takes the song to an amazing place. The pace is consistent, concentrated and radiating.
4. Nothing Ever Happened, Microcastle
Man this opening is one of the best the band ever came up with. With the quick reverb and a drum signal, we’re off into a whirlwind of musicality. The drums are at a solid place, and the twinkling of the guitar and bass all help to build this huge sound. It reminds of something Mod’s would dance to back in the day, but way better than any mod band ever. The lyrics are simple, but that's not a bad thing. It’s easy to sing along, and the chorus is joyful and full of abandon. Ive the song is taken to another place entirely. Usually serving as a jam out session, the song is way more high energy as it goes, and leaves you wanting more.
3. Desire Lines, Halcyon Digest
The first time I ever saw them, this was the opener. I loved that show so much, even after being told by multiple people it was the worst time they saw them. I didn’t care though, The powerful guitars at the start and the billowy atmosphere surrounding the vocals. I love the chanting in the background too, mildly competing with Bradford Cox and his own unique vocal style. Obviously, being number three on the “Deerhunter Top Ten” is expected to be great, but this song still captivates me in a way most of their other songs simply can’t. It’s also quite lumbering though, and at nearly seven minute long track, it hold up well against shorter songs, It’s just really good.
2. Twilight at Carbon Lake, Microcastle
My ideas for the vibe of this song fuelled my theory about the album. My theory depicts a boy swimming to the bottom of the ocean, and eventually being eaten by a giant octopus. That’s what the album reminded me . It’s dark, sinister, and things don’t go your way. It also helps the imagery because of the usage of “Lake” in the title. It’s song for looking to the stars at night, imagining what lies beyond. Perhaps some other dimensions version of Deerhunter is laying this song right now, for all the evil world to come out and sing to. It’s meandering and shimmering, with images of celestial bodies all above your head, and it explodes in a bright light at the conclusion.
Metal is a genre particularly prickly and not known for fully embracing outside thinking. Some bands have succeeded in doing just that though, which brings us to San Francisco based Deafheaven. Fronted enigmatically and violently by George Clark, the band first emerged with minimal exposure on their 2011 debut “Roads to Judah.” Now, that record is good, and compliments the band’s fierce side, but let’s be real. The band first gained major indie cred with their astonishing 2013 masterpiece, “Sunbather.”
This record, quite simply is something to behold. For a long while, black metal was a foreign thing, having been perfected by Nordic ancestors Dimmu Borgir, Burzum and 1349. But in the last few years, bands like Liturgy, old schoolers Goatwhore, and yes, Deafheaven have emerged as some of the best American Black Metal bands. Deafheaven stands above the rest though. How they do it in turns lies on the amalgamation of the sound. It’s not straight black metal. Commonly seen as a mix between Black Metal and the Shoegaze genres, Deafheaven manages to mix the sound contrasts consistent in both styles and make it something else entirely. “Sunbather,” in all of its glory is one hour of fury, emotion, power, and sacrifice the likes of which is rarely seen in the metal genre. The album was, rightfully so, hailed as triumph, and was prominently featured on many year end Albums list. It’s simply wonderful and eye opening. Songs like title track “Sunbather” have this sort of free floating darkness surrounding it, while the magnificently executed “Dream House” will leave you gladly joining in the race for the dream, which is death. Yes, it’s clandestine and shrouded, but in that darkness lies a beauty that’s hard to pinpoint. ,
However, every great album is meant to be topped, and with their third album, “New Bermuda,” I believe they in fact did make a better record than “Sunbather.” Featuring less tracks and running for less time than it’s predecessor, it manages to encapsulate everything the band stands for in a far grander vision than any of the other records, and do so in less time. Now that’s not to suggest the album is weaker. Over five tracks spanning forty-five minutes, “Bermuda,” envelopes you in deep fiery solo’s, moving lyrical passages permeating with turmoil, but also beautifully meticulous instrumental sections. Hearing the downward flow of “Come Back” paints pictures of happiness on lonely beaches, with the one you cherish, and for what it’s worth, there was no better musical environment the year it came out. Even more powerful is the gorgeous closing of “Gifts for the Earth,” which melts into serene piano keys, and washes through the air in magical embraces.
It’s a testament to how well the band can switch between the brutal and beautiful, but also showcases the depth and understanding of various genres and musical way of thinkings. With only three albums under their belt, they continue to get better with each stroke and movement, and I’m sure the following years will be an exciting time to be a Deafheaven fan. Thanks for reading.
Very easily, the Deftones have remained one of my favorite bands of all time. Each album has deepened their sound and craft, but before they hit us with experimental narratives and soundscapes, they blew open the Nu Metal genre with this quintessentially angry album from 1997. Today brings another album to the “Albums of my Life” series with “Around the Fur.”
Song one, “My Own Summer(Shove It)” opens with the crunchy and slightly glossed over feeling that permeates the entire album. Before subsequent records were released, this track was easily the most well known, but even though that fact has changed, the track is still a very recognizable fan favorite, nearly always being a highlight at their high energy shows. The guitar and the light feedback coming in and out over the muddled but focused lyrics are something you never forget, and well, the chorus is something every kid my age could relate to. This was also the first video I ever saw from the band, which finally put faces to the members.. It’s also memorable for the ocean setting, which sees the band struggling to stay above water while being circles by sharks. From there though, the record intensifies ever so slightly with “Lhabia.” There’s not a bad song on the entirety of the record, but somehow this track is one you rarely hear mentioned. The drums especially are on point here, and they make the essence of the mixing really strike a cord.
The following selections though are where the band really stretch their legs. “Mascara” runs with underlying emotions of anguish and the difficulties of relationships, while the title track instantly brings the energy up again, this time even more intense and in your face than the previous songs. That being said, after the brutality of track five “Rickets,” the album more or less gets not only heavier, but also more nuanced in the way the band presents the elements of each song. This record also does a really good job of showing you the baby steps the band took to grow their sound, nurturing it in slow, deliberate ways, gradually adding more elements to a otherwise heavy band.
Now this album isn't a long record by any means, but what it lacks in longevity it more than makes up for with intensity and emotion. It’s also the first record I ever bought that made me slightly embarrassed. For a sheltered young kid living in a difficult environment, largely misunderstood by everyone around them(Isn't that ALL teenagers though) purchasing an album that features a bikini clad well endowed woman was difficult to get in line with. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash these days, but for my tenth grade self it proved to be something I had to get used to, while hiding said record from parentals. Getting back to “Around the Fur,” though, the track has one of the best breakdowns at the end, with Chino Moreno letting it all pour out of him, and setting up the stage perfectly for the assault which is “Rickets.”
The second half of the record though, begins with one of the best songs the band ever wrote. You might be aware of it. “Be Quiet and Drive(Far Away)” has one of the best openings of any track I’ve ever heard, and the energy is palpable throughout its five minutes and eight seconds. Everything about this song makes me happy, even though the content is anything but. The bouncy quality of the track also lends itself perfectly to the live setting, and when used as a set opener, it does exactly what the band needs it to, which is getting the crowd involved and intertwined for the remainder of the set.
Now, this is one of the only things that confuse me still about this record. Track seven, “Lotion,” while amazing, has nearly the same exact opening, albeit shortened and more punctuated than BQAD. I’ve always wondered if it was on purpose, or it the track just felt like the next logical step on the record, but otherwise it keeps the attention of the energy and precision of the record, and in that regard, it works wonderfully.
Concluding the record though, we get the heaviest track of the album, featuring Max from Sepultura/ Soulfly fame, and on the song, titled “Headup,” we’re given more energy and well balanced noise than on the whole record. Following that, “MX” ties all the loose ends up, and features slow wining verses with finely cut edges and intricate rhythm sections to properly send the listener off with just the right amount of abrasive musicianship and lyrics. Thanks for reading.
Over the course of thirty years, Swedish based Meshuggah has gradually become not only one of the best underground bands in the metal genre, but also one of the most proficient and highly regarded bands to produce heavy music. The thought, precision and measure they use to produce music is consistently one step ahead of other metal bands while also maintaining a high level of craftsmanship. Today we delve into the sounds of this awesome band with the Top Ten songs by metal experimenters, Meshuggah
We kick off the countdown with one of the band's most experimental endeavors. Released in 2004, this one song, twenty plus minute EP wasn’t exactly met with huge accolades, but rather it furthered the outside the box thinking prevalent in the band. Over the course of the long meandering track, the band manage to meld multiple sections highlighting all their best aspects into a powerful, punishing track that only proves how ahead of the curve they are. Recorded in single takes, the tracks heaviness is only topped by the precise state of mind it takes to make this sort of thing a reality.
The first times I saw them open for Tool this song was the closer, and while the rest of the set was fitting, this song seems to just do well when presented as the last. It lumbers through cords, and drum beats, with the voice of Jens Kidman coming through like a disgruntled employee who simply can’t take it anymore. Musically it’s not much different from the other songs on this list, but it proves just how consistently heavy this band can be, and how with a perfect understanding of musicianship a band can truly stay above their contemporaries, for lack of a better word.
8. obZen, obZen
Many of their albums have familiar themes and subject matter, but musically “obZen” was a changing point for the band. It’s still heavy as hell, but with the incomparable Tomas Haake once again behind the kit, the band was free to go back to the brutal live sound they had initially cultivated. The record has a little bit more polish to it, and is a bit smoother around the edges, but even on the title track, it’s still extremely heavy and unforgiving. Like a murder in the cold of winter, the music of Meshuggah is unflinching and unafraid to take chances to propel the quality of the music.
7. Concatenation, Chaosphere
Even though the band has continued to excel and get more technical, the first time you’re exposed to the masterpiece of “Chaosphere,” it startles you. I did that to me for sure. I’d like to also mention there’s something so refreshing about listening and writing about this band at nine in the morning.”Concatenation,” the first track off the record, is an unrelenting torrent of technical guitar work, drums flying a mile a minute, and Kidman’s fully recognizable growl. Needless to say the record follows the pace set by this track pretty well, and if you want to make a mark and showcase your plan for a record, starting with a track like this pretty much gives you the only mission statement you need.
6. Future Breed Machine, Destroy Erase Improve
I came into the Meshuggah game relatively late I guess, so once the journey to the back catalogue began, what I found was that while they were growing in their technicality, they were always insanely heavy. This is felt most by number six on the best Meshuggah songs, “Future Breed Machine.” The song is more straightforward than the others that would come later, but you can still feel it having a different vibe from what was big in the metal genre at the time. I mean, that kick drum is just sick as hell, and frankly I can’t get enough.
5. Perpetual Black Second. Nothing
Musically the song has this weird drum thrash to it that remains for the entirety of the song, but I’ve always liked it, seeing as it reminds me of a musical bitch slap. That might be weird, so I’m sorry, but yeah. Anyway, the vocals are more punctuated to great results, and it melds well with the stop and start mechanics of the instrumentals. The song pulls at you in various ways, calling you to share in its “Perpetual Black Second,” and after a brief but awesome guitar section, the track delves right back into darkness and chaos continues to ensue.
4. the Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled, Chaosphere
I feel like there’s a lack of good words to describe this band's chaotic sounds. I’ve used so many already it’s actually becoming a struggle, but I digress. By far the shortest song presented here, but in no way is it any less technically sound. In fact it’s nearly the opposite. The guitars are really mindblowing, making mincemeat out of other bands with relative ease, and the breakdown at minute two moves the song into a whirlwind of sound and energy most bands can't touch. Number Four on the countdown, “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled,”off the band's breakout “Chaosphere.”
3. New Millennium Cyanide Christ. Chaosphere
For many people, this band was first exposed to them via the MTV “Osbournes.” If you recall, it’s one of the tracks Jack uses to taunt his horrible neighbor. Beyond that though the track is obviously well recorded, mixed and performed. Meshuggah isn’t known explicitly for background sounds or ambient noises, but “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” is a rare track that’s able to be full throttle, while also ramping up the scope of the capabilities of the band. Meshuggah is mostly a you get it or you don’t, and while not everyone is a fan of metal, the technical perfection in the band is something music snobs and especially musicians of all walks can admire.
2. Bleed, obZen
I once read a quote that paraphrased Meshuggah as being a band that the soldiers of hell would listen to before capturing Earth. To this day I’ve never heard a better description of this act. It just fits so well, and this song, while released after the quote was, is the best description of what that means. It’s almost like a metal grinder spinning out of control into a cyclone of chaos and drums. And yes, those aren’t drum machines, that’s a real fucking dude doing that, which is even more staggering. Like seriously, want more kick drums? “Bleed” remains one of the most brutal unapologetic songs I’ve ever heard, and seeing it live is just as remarkable.
1. Rational Gaze, Nothing
I got this record years ago for Christmas, and from that moment on, Rational Gaze,” from their major label debut after performing at Ozzfest, is brilliant in a way these other nine simply aren’t. The bounce qualities of the drums and bass are somewhat reminiscent of Pantera, but other than that this sounds like nothing except quintessential Meshuggah. It’s not the most in your face, and while it has somewhat of a crunchy bass and guitar line to it, that element makes the drudgery of the song more in line with the vision of the band. Sometimes you don’t need to be completely over the top heavy to be a great track, and with the excellent “Rational Gaze,” Meshuggah proves just that. Thanks for reading.
What is it about band names that help or hurt the artists who choose them? Well first, it’s really hard for a band to be taken seriously if say you’re called Limp Bizkit, or Flo Rida. But even some genuinely good bands have names which are silly or don’t really fit. Foo Fighters anyone? As I digress though, today we'll be talking about some awesome band names, and why the names work so well with the music they create. Enjoy!
The tale of the Avalanches is a sad one. As I’ve mentioned before, they made one still vastly brilliant album over fifteen years ago. The reason the name works so well, for me is because their sound is kind of like a musical avalanche. The assortment of samples piled on each other make a vibrant mix of chaos and color, and while most actual avalanches are white in color, the shoe fits fantastically well, and perfectly showcases the controlled storm of the phenomenon.
When you talk about the early days of heavy metal, the most important band to bring up is easily Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin is amazing, but Sabbath has a more traditional sound in the genre. Regardless of musicality though, the name Black Sabbath promotes evil in ways that many bands today can’t even come close to. It just sounds brutal. The holy day of Sunday, turned into a world of blood and torment. That’s what Sabbath means to me.
Death Cab for Cutie
I’ll be clear: While this band is very good, and the name catchy and interesting, I have no idea what it means beyond the very obvious thought consisting of a pretty girl waiting for a ride to the afterlife. For some reason though, the name fits well within the style and themes presented over the course of their records. It’s a sad, sometimes dreary band that could work within the confines of a name like that, and undoubtedly the band has found great success as Death Cab for Cutie.
Faith No More
In the same way that Black Sabbath represents evil in all it’s greatness, Faith No More stands up as being just as good, if not more subtle than the other name just mentioned. It works so well because of it’s simplicity, but I actually like to think it has more meaning than the obvious religious undertones. To me, FNM implies that everything is meant to change, both musically and in live, and that nothing is sacred, and everything should be mixed around to form something new and exciting
Queens of the Stone Age
Most bands full of men don’t easily veer to a name with a feminine affect to it, but Queens aren’t most bands. The heaviness of the title, as well as the otherworldly feel of the music add to the name. The fact that some songs are genuinely love songs also adds to the more womanly nature of the band, and when a band is awesome and Queens of the Stone Age, frankly I feel like they can do whatever they want. Thanks for reading!
Everyone knows that making one good record is much easier than creating a second one that will hold up the credibility of the band while still taking risks necessary for maintaining success. This line of writing has to do with Scotland based CHVRCHES, our topic today.
Over the course of two very high energy and methodically crafted electronic albums, Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry haven’t just redefined what an electronic act with a female front can do, but also how fast they can ascend to powerhouse in the beat oriented alternative genre.
The band's second album, “Every Eye Open,” follows the trend set by the powerful debut “The Bones of What You Believe,” but while the second album is similar, the band knew they couldn’t just rest on their laurels and instead furthered what they had so brilliantly done with “Bones.” In my writing on the top twenty albums of 2015, in which CHVRCHES landed at the very top spot I mentioned how the new record was difficult to initially embrace, which is true. By listen three I was still not convinced the trio had another luminous release, but by listen fifteen, twenty, fifty times I was able to see the love, the patience and the emotion they poured into the making of this record. Many songs are able to hook you, and though it took me time, the effort paid off. That’s what is great about serious music fans, which is a group I’d like to consider myself part of. You have to work towards it sometimes, like some form of an auditory relationship, which sounds weird and cliche and maybe even downright stupid, but it’s true. Music, and entertainment for that matter, is a relationship between artists and those that give it a chance.
Whether you end up hating it or living it, you build opinions, and thoughts, and if those end up being on the positive side, it strengthens your life. We all have those records that stay with us, and as of now, Mayberry and company have made two really great records. Having said all of that though, the second album wouldn’t have been possible if not for the giant break the band got when they unleashed their debut. Simply put, you can’t make a second album if no one gives a shit about the first one.
“The Bones of What You Believe,” is a wonderfully layered record that acted as new play on a somewhat familiar premise. Plenty of bands have made success out of electronic based instrumentation with a female lead. Crystal Castles is probably the most obvious choice to mention, and while that band is great, they approach their music from a darker, more ominous cave than CHVRCHES. What Mayberry does with her approach to music is more of a lighter touch and the singing and melodies and the smoothness of the delivery make the music easier to sing to, which undoubtedly helps when it comes to accessibility. From opener “The Mother We Share,” down the line, each song is futuristic and courageous, while building on a simple framework, devoid of making things more difficult just to do so. That song's infectious hook catapulted the band to a giant break, and before you knew it this band was rising not only in notability but also getting higher up on festival lineups, which is the modern way of judging a band's trajectory. Indeed, on the success of a awe inspiring first act, they had arrived, and were welcomed with tons of new fans and many rave reviews.
But therein lies the rub. As a I mentioned earlier the Sophomore record is arguably more important than a debut, for a variety of reasons. If you make a second solid album, you can maintain the craftsmanship you want, and of course, more people will continue to seek out your music if they know you’re reliable entertainment. Years ago Passion Pit was the next big thing, and before that it was MGMT. Both bands had great debut full length records, but when’s the last time you read a glowing review of a new album by either of those bands? That’s because they couldn’t sustain the quality they found in the early days. The list goes on and on, but the point is, CHVRCHES isn’t like those bands.
“Every Eye Open” is a brilliant record that for me, stands up better than their predecessor in a multitude of ways. Yes the album was obviously made in a more hasty manner than “Bones,” but that urgency thankfully created an album more focused, with a more full sound. Highlights of the record include the pulsating opener “Never Ending Circles,” and slow builder of soundscapes “Clearest Blue.” “Blue” in particular is excellent because while nothing about the song is light years ahead of the curb, the band took an approach to gradually build upon elements until the song is exploding with energy. Think of it as a more electronic version of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” in the way it morphs from slow entrance to epic dance party.
The album hopefully means that the band will continue to work towards topping themselves as they did with the second release, and if they don’t well at least we have gotten two very good records out of the deal. But, I mean really, they for sure have it in them to make solidly thought provoking records that touch on themes of abandonment, dark religious undertones and ideas, and above all else, a sound that is crisp and concise enough to draw in fans from various walks and ideas. Thank you for reading, see you next time.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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